A question about mixtape ethics




Today we're going to enter into one of those total music geek discussions. The kind of thing that someone who doesn't have a total passion for music would read and go "jeebus, get a life you wanker." But this is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night... OK, that's an exaggeration, but this is seriously something that I've wondered about for years, so I figured I'd put the question out there and get opinions on it. So at the risk of going totally Rob Fleming on you (Rob Gordon if you suffer from bibliophobia), I have an ethical question about mixtapes...

If you're making a mix for a potential paramour, or current soulmate, or unrequited crush, or whatever, is it bad form to reuse a song? In other words, once you've put a song on a mix for someone special, should it be off limits for any future mixes?

I've always been of the mind that when making a mix for courting, songs are subject to a "one and done" rule. Once it's been gifted to an object of your affections, it's off limits for any similar use. It just seems like using the same song over and over is the musical equivalent of a pickup line, and no one wants to be that guy.


But to play devil's advocate, unless you're dating from a very small pool, no one is ever going to know you're dishing out reruns. And if it's a really good song, it seems like a waste to not use it just because you've been to that well once before. I mean, you wouldn't hesitate taking a date to your favorite bar just because you'd been there with someone else, right?

What say you?

Semisonic - "Singing In My Sleep (Radio Mix)" (mp3) original version on Feeling Strangely Fine

Comments:
I think that the MOTIVE behind putting the song on there is very important to consider.

If you're putting it on there b/c "z0mg, this song sums up everything I feel about you" or "Do you remember that time we were X-ing in your parent's Y?" or "Here's that song that was playing when we were Z-ing in your Q" it's a one and done, never to be used again.

If, however, you're putting a song on a mixtape because "omfg, this song is so f-ing amazing, you've just got to hear it", sure, put it on as many mixtapes as you can. I mean, that's the exact sentiment that so many blogs have grown from, so I see no problem with that.
 
Or, to complicate things further: can you re-gift songs on mixtapes? In other words, if someone put a song on a mixtape for you, can you put that song on a mixtape for someone else?

Sticky stuff, and I have no answers. But good question.
 
Or even worse, can you repeat songs in different mixtapes to the same person? Sometimes I can't remember if I have used a song or not.
About giving the same song to different persons, I don't see a problem on that, most of those songs are important to me in a very particular time and I think it's nice to share them. On the other hand, if it's a verysignificantlovesong, I prefer not to use it again.

About the rules of making a mixtape, like not repeating artist or songs, I think that if you have a lait motive, it's ok, you can get very interesting results.

Now I want to do a mixtape! ;D
 
Good question. I try to avoid samesies but I still like the same songs I did last time and I make so many mixtapes that it can be inevitable. If your ex hasn't ruined the song for you, nothing wrong with using it again.
 
Jessica, I think that would be the musical equivalent of a STD... sticky stuff indeed.
 
For me, mix tapes are a snap shot, a glimpse into the world during a specific time. They tell a story or comment on a relationship, a season, a school year. The songs on the tape are chosen, or should be, because they perfectly fit into the story. Could the same components be in a different story? Maybe, but more than likely there is a better/more relevant way to tell the story.

Using the same song in more than one mix tape for the current flavor of love seems unimaginative and cheap.

If, however, the song's place in your story has changed since it was first used, I think using it again has merit.
 
I'm totally lost. What are these "tapes" that you speak of?
 
Wow...good topic. Very good topic.
First of all, I'm a huge believer in the Mix Tape as an auditory scrapbook or journal entry or diary you share with whomever it's intended for. I love them. I love making them and receiving them. I feel it not only gives a glimpse of what someone is feeling about me, but it allows me to see their tastes in music, if they're able to HEAR lyrics and they're going to be able to transition someone else's words and melody to a place that rises me above the average person I MAY or MAY NOT consider spending my time with.

I also found a great book recently "Love is a Mix Tape" which just speaks to the power of our generation's use of the Mix Tape as a book of love sonnets set to a spiffy soundtrack.

Now, to answer your question...I agree that the ethical dilemma comes from MOTIVE. There are certain songs that I associate with "elements" of the type of person who'd set my world on fire and if I do find that element in a person, I may put that song on their mix tape that for me highlights that feature or characteristic. Then there are songs that are relevant to the time and places you are with this person (i.e. Jim and I to me = "Steady Pull" by Jonatha Brooke, it was what WXPN was pushing and I was playing in my stereo when we started relating/dating). Then there are the songs that YOU live by or are MOVED by. I think there's a place for those songs on a mix tape for a prospective lover. You have to let them know who you are...sometimes the best way to let them know is through the mood and intent of some well crafted songs that you cannot live without.

So a short answer to your question is - yes, I think you can use a song that you've put on a previous mix tape if you know WHY you're doing it. Do not reuse if you are hoping to refashion this new yummy person into you're leftovers in the hopes that you'll get that flavor you're looking for. Also, I agree that unless a song that someone else gave you on a mix tape becomes something more powerful for you - don't regift it. You're already using someone else's chords, thesaurus choices, and intent, you don't need to use an ex's motivation or symbolism...that's too many degrees of separation for me.

Great topic again, love it a LOT. It does make me think though - perhaps to have a mix-tape exchange amongst a circle of friends or mix CD or playlist...how times continue to change. Sorry, I couldn't be short and sweet on this one.
 
BTW...I think that Feeling Strangely Fine is a wonderfully crafted pop-album...and Chemistry is a fine follow up that ended up on one of my mix tapes to Jim as well.
Thanks for getting this train of thought started.
 
no.

i've done it and held a secret regretful shame ever since.

great question - always good to know people still hold the mixtape sacresd!
 
If it's friends that you make mixtapes for then you can use the same song over.[For just in case you have those picky music friends] But for relationships.
I would ok it. It doesn't really matter if you use a song more than once.
The thing that matters with mixtapes is that they are used to describe your view on a piece of your life. It's ok if you use a song more than once to describe that piece of your life.
[Or a mixtape could just be a mixtape if you're making it because someone wants one]
I think that you'll be fine if you have the same song on a different mixtape.
 
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